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Shotgun Smith (Robin character) (DC Comics) pointing his sawed-off

Shotgun Smith


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

“Shotgun” Smith was briefly seen in Batman stories, in 1972/73. “The toughest cop in Gotham !”, blustered the cover.

But after that he was largely forgotten, until he made an unexpected return in 1993. He then became a recurrent character in the Robin series for a decade.

He’s a grindhouse flick  type character. Which is what we had before straight-to-video, since most folks didn’t have a VCR during the 1970s.


Background

  • Real Name: Steve “Shotgun” Smith.
  • Marital Status: Widowed and divorced.
  • Known Relatives: Unnamed wife (deceased), unnamed ex-wife (divorced), Maryanne (daughter).
  • Group Affiliation: Gotham County Police, and possibly the New York’s Sheriffs’ association.
  • Base of Operations: Gotham County.
  • Height: 6’1″ Weight: 210 lbs.
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Dirty blond


Powers & Abilities

“Shotgun” Smith is an exceptionally persistent and experienced detective. He is also a courageous (if impulsive) professional in tactical situations, with excellent reflexes and accuracy. He was once reputed to be Gotham’s toughest cop.

Shotgun also remains a formidable brawler, even though he’s now slower and out of shape. If fighting becomes a matter of pride, he’s still able to defeat confirmed martial arts professionals.

In his youth, he was strong enough to tear 1970s car doors free and use them as weapons. He could also threaten Batman (Bruce Wayne) in hand-to-hand combat. But the latter seemed to be a mix of successive high rolls and Hero Points.

Smith used to have a fine, detailed knowledge of several rough neighbourhoods in Gotham City. This is no longer feasible as a county official, though. The area is much larger and spread out, and Shotgun’s knowledge of it is thus coarser. But it remains useful.

“Shotgun” Smith is still admired in some quarters for his Gotham City career. He’s one of the local policing legends.

Since the 1990s he’s been partnering with Deputy Cissy Chambers, an unusually competent officer.

Signature firearm

His “sidearm” famously is a double-barrelled side-by-side 12-gauge shotgun. Both barrels and the stock were sawed off. He carries it in a custom shoulder holster.

Or at least it is *drawn* that way. Artistic uncertainty about what exactly the writer meant by “a shotgun” abounds in comics. Which is a bother when it comes to game stats.

Shotgun Smith (Robin character) (DC Comics) threatening grin

Frex, in the 1972 story, there are multiple instances where this weapon clearly holds more than two shells. So Shotgun’s weapon may not have been intended to be a side-by-side, but a pump-action model with a sawed-off stock and barrel (and possibly a pistol grip).

See our small arms articles for various types of shortened shotguns.

In 1997, a thug handling Shotgun’s weapon called it an “elephant gun”. That’s a curious remark about a common 12-gauge. So perhaps this is an old side-by-side sawed off 10-gauge.


History

In 1972, “Shotgun” Smith was a detective on the GCPD’s 28th precinct narcotics squad. He worked alone, and was reputed for both his brutality toward suspects and his efficiency. Commissioner Gordon covered for him, as he couldn’t afford having Detective Smith off the street.

Same bat-time…

Underworld heat rose about Shotgun, as he was too damaging to drugs traffickers. One “Wheel”, a secretive heroin kingpin, wanted him dead. But Commissioner Gordon persuaded Batman (Bruce Wayne) to help, even though Batman saw Detective Smith as poor police.

Smith pretended to go crooked. He stole a large stash of heroin from evidence control, and said that he wanted to sell it to Wheel. A key part was when Shotgun was uncovered by Batman in front of a mob lieutenant, but beat the Caped Crusader. This convinced this cowardly, superstitious lot that Shotgun was indeed on their side.

Shotgun thus met Wheel, and produced a sawed-off shotgun hidden among the heroin to arrest him. Howbeit, Wheel had had Maryanne kidnapped, and produced her as a hostage to stop Shotgun. But Batman had deduced Shotgun’s plan, and came in to save Maryanne.

…same bat-channel

In 1973, a criminal named Cragg impersonated “Shotgun” Smith. This was part of an attempt to blackmail gazillionaire Bruce Wayne. Cragg even had a lifelike mask of Detective Smith, and a mind-control drug.

Batman defeated Cragg and his accomplice. He then told “Shotgun” Smith what had happened, to Smith’s amusement.

On the south side of the town, on the wrong side of the tracks

Shotgun Smith’s star faded under unclear circumstances. He was apparently accused of corruption before a “Griswold Commission”. Only Gordon came to his defense. Smith had to leave the GCPD.

Some time later Smith joined the Gotham County police, eventually making Sheriff. His authority extends mainly to the unincorporated suburbs around Gotham, and some countryside areas. To his regret, it also covers Arkham Asylum.

A little bird told him

From 1993 onward Sheriff Smith has been a frequent connection for Robin (Tim Drake), who often operates in the suburbs. Several collars the Sheriff made were made possible by Robin, and trust was established between the two crimefighters.

Among their earliest collaborations, were :

Gordon’s law

In 1997, Jim Gordon called upon Shotgun’s off-the-record help. The GCPD commissioner was dealing with a bad case of rotten cops. An outsider yet knowing Gotham well, Shotgun used vacation time to help the commish.

Shotgun Smith makes a dynamic entry with his officers

(At this point, Smith is a deputy. He was busted down at some point in 1996. During this time he remained partnered with Cissy Chambers, who still called him “Sheriff”.)

The case got even more ugly. Shotgun discovered too late that the FBI agent working with them also was on the take. Betrayed, Smith was captured and tortured. In a burst of sheer rage he killed his torturer, veteran cop Tim Dougherty.

Smith then escaped, somehow reaching Deputy Chambers’ home. The corruption seemed vast, but he knew that he could trust Cissy. After a hospital stay, “Shotgun” Smith returned from his “vacation”. He was soon reinstated as Sheriff.

Rockin’ Robin, tweedle deeleedee

Shotgun resumed working with Robin on the following cases :

  • The building of a gang by the General (Ulysses Armstrong) and Julie Caesar, a deluded former member of Maxie Zeus’ mob. This escalated into raiding a biker bar, as Armstrong had triggered a major brawl between two rival gangs.
  • Rescuing Batman, who had been captured by modern-day pirate Cap’n Fear. Shotgun and his county cops had to team up with the Coast Guard out of Tricorner Yards for this one.
  • Narrowly surviving an attack by Charaxes. During another attempt to stop this monster, Shotgun and his partner Cissy Chambers were stunned by Lockup (Lyle Bolton).
  • Discovering which person was donning the costume of Crocky the Friendly Crocodile (an equivalent of Barney the Dinosaur) to commit highly visible heists.
  • Stopping well-armed False Face Society members selling assault weaponry to a minor gang.
  • Stopping the Trigger Twins (Tad and Tom Trigger). They were being manipulated by a third sharpshooter pretending to be their long-lost sister. During this case, Shotgun also worked with US Marshal Smith (a descendant of Old West hero “Pow Wow” Smith) and Nighthawk (Hannibal Hawk, also a descendant of an Old West hero).
  • Arresting the incapacitated Spellbinder, who had been covertly taken down by Oracle (Barbara Gordon).

In 1998, a cross-jurisdictional case had Gordon form a team with “Shotgun” Smith and Harvey Bullock. Though the two couldn’t stand each other, they did recover an invaluable diamond, prevented an international incident, and learned to respect each other.

Who was that masked boy ?

A few months later, the county police investigated the “graduates” of a crime academy set up by Cluemaster and Dragoncat. Robin and Spoiler also made considerable progress.

Smith and Chambers managed to corner Dragoncat, who mauled Shotgun. Yet the Sheriff insisted on finishing this fight mano-a-mano. Though Dragoncat was more proficient, he underestimated Smith, who sent him to the hospital.

Smith and Chambers then investigated the murder of young Philmont Delinger at his high school. Robin eventually nailed the suspects.

After the big earthquake, the prisoners at Blackgate had to be held by the county police. Smith was glad to transfer them back once Blackgate had been secured anews. But during this transfer, Nick Scratch’s enhanced operatives attacked with rocket-propelled grenades. Shotgun was badly wounded by shrapnel.

Party like it’s 1999

Smith recovered remarkably well. A few months later, he ran into more Scratch operatives. These genetically-altered men were dying, and they threatened the staff of a hospital so as to be cured. A proper assault couldn’t take place due to all the pressurised flammables in the operating theatre. Still, Robin took the suspects down as they died.

In 2000, Smith and Chambers found themselves mopping up after Robin and Green Arrow (Connor Hawke). The pair was defending a boy stalked by a powerful Middle-Eastern demon.

In 2002, Smith and Chambers investigated slaughtered animals at a petting zoo. They correctly determined that some sort of animalistic predators were at work. The killers were a were-leopard and a were-jaguar. These were stopped by Robin, the Blue Beetle and Bridget Clancy.

Shotgun ain’t been seen since then, Jack.


It’s about jurisdiction, Jack

Here are a few notes to help non-American readers get a sense of some elements relevant to “Shotgun” Smith’s work.

First, American law enforcement is hopelessly atomised. There are close to 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the country. The laws and regulations they enforce can significantly vary. Something legal in a town might be illegal in the next town over.

Furthermore, they can operate at different scales –

  • Federal (the entire country).
  • A state within the US.
  • A county within a state.
  • A town or township within a county.
  • A municipality.

These are not ranked by size. The New York City Police Department, a municipal police, has more than 35,000 officers. That’s more than ten times as much police as the state of New Hampshire.

This is county business, Jack

Counties are administrative divisions within a state. How much power they have depend upon the state’s constitution, but they often have their own government.

The Gotham County likely provides a non-trivial range of services – libraries, utilities, jails, hospitals, road maintenance, property records, etc..

Gotham City likely is its own administrative division, separate from its suburbs and hinterland. But obviously its influence spreads around. The county-level officials also have to deal with the next administrative level, the towns and townships. These are areas that have their own government, regulations and agencies. *And* there are the state authorities above them.

If this stuff becomes important — because “Shotgun” Smith is important in your game/story — here’s simple advice. Gotham likely is in the state of New Jersey. Therefore, use Google to find links to county sheriffs in New Jersey  (outside of major cities). From there find a county sheriff website that seems appropriate and explains what they do.

It is important to note that the Gotham County Sheriff’s Department has at least one full-readiness SWAT unit, wielding what seems to be M16A2 rifles. This unit is usually led by Shotgun, though he does so in plain clothes and with a shotgun.


Description

Shotgun’s distinctive hat can likely be classified as a porkpie hat. It’s about the same as the one worn by “Popeye” Doyle in cult movie The French Connection, released one year before Shotgun’s first appearance. The front brim is bent up for some reason.

(Edit – Smith’s 1973 appearances lays it even thicker about the The French Connection references. So “Shotgun” is almost certainly based on Gene Hackmann as Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle.)

The rest of his outfit — white shirt, bad suit, trench coat, tie worn completely loose — hasn’t changed either over 30+ years.


Personality

Smith is a rough, bull-like, two-fisted customer. He’s clearly a man of the people.

He likes to be in the thick of the action, he likes results and he likes them now. He’s not much for subtle compromise and negotiation, although he’ll recognise a good plan. He’s proud of his rep as a tough guy, and will defend it unto unconsciousness.

Shotgun Smith calls most everybody “Jack”, including women (well, some women are called Jack).

He also has a problem with the GCPD, and will happily play jurisdiction wars with them. As long as he’s there, the GCPD has better stay completely out of Gotham County business. But this stance changes if he’s personally interacting with Commissioner Gordon.

Smith is vaguely kept in line by his deputy, Ms. Cissy Chambers. She’s cynical and sassy, but she’s a professional and understands this whole “rule of law among a Republic” thing much better than Shotgun does.


Quotes

“This is a COUNTY business and this is a COUNTY crime and it’ll be a COUNTY bust, Jack !”

Cissy: “This coffee has to be two weeks old, Shotgun.”
Shotgun: “Then give me a fork. I need that caffeine.”

“I ain’t waiting on backup, Jack.”

“That psycho ! I’ll blow double-ought  up his skirts !”

Cissy: “Should I call an ambulance ?”
Shotgun: “Nah, I’ll just take an aspirin.”
Cissy: “I meant for the suspects, Shotgun.”
Shotgun: “Let ’em suffer.”

“Freeze ! Make a move and yer wallpaper !”

“Don’t look so sick, Bullock. This is your big break. I’m going to teach you how to be a real cop.”


Genre notes

“Shotgun” Smith operates in a specific subgenre of American fiction with police protagonists. This is especially notable since a lot of GCPD officers operate in markedly different subgenres. For instance, Montoya and the rest in the landmark Gotham Central lived in a “gritty crime”, noir-ish subgenre instead.

Shotgun’s subgenre is something I call the “numinous police” subgenre. Some important subgenre conventions are :

  • Characters are either intrinsically good or intrinsically evil.
  • Anything that good characters do is axiomatically a good action.
  • Evil characters have no worth as human beings. In fact they have negative worth, soiling the world by their very existence. Hurting or eliminating them is righteous and cathartic.
  • The police are never wrong, unless an Idiot Chief figure is involved. For instance, if they beat a suspect up, this person will inevitably turns out to have been evil all along. Ignoring laws and rights will always turn out to have been the correct decision.
  • The police are never accountable, unless an Idiot Chief is involved or a Bad Person (such as a criminal defense lawyer) is plotting. Most regulations and rights are red tape to be ignored.
  • The primary problem with the world is an endless supply of evil people creating death and misery for good people, because they are intrinsically evil.
  • People resembling the story’s audience will usually be good and right, and vice versa.

Subgenres considerations are independent of “Genre” in the DCH sense. Though in a TORG game they’d be Reality Axioms, but I digress.


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

“Shotgun” Smith

Dex: 04 Str: 03 Bod: 04 Motivation: Justice
Int: 04 Wil: 04 Min: 05 Occupation: County Sheriff
Inf: 05 Aur: 04 Spi: 05 Wealth: 005
Init: 015 HP: 022

Skills:
Accuracy (Sense bluffs): 05, Charisma (Intimidation, interrogation): 05, Detective (All but Law): 05, Martial artist: 04, Vehicles (Land): 05, Weaponry (Firearms): 05

Advantages:
Area Knowledge (Gotham County), Edge (STR, BODY), Iron nerves, Local Hero (Mid-Atlantic states cops who admire tough police), Police Rank (Sheriff).

Connections:
Gotham County Police (High, from his Rank), Commissioner Gordon (Low). Would have a Low Connection to Robin (Tim Drake) if he could contact him.

Drawbacks:
MIA to impulsiveness. In his early appearances he had a SIA toward protecting his daughter. Whether he retains this trait is unrevealed.

Equipment:

  • Sawed-off scattergun [BODY 03, Shotgun Blast (Range 02): 07, Ammo: 02, R#04, Recommended STR: 03, Drawback: Long Reload. Note: EV can be raised to 08 Diminishing by shooting both barrels at once, expending two Ammo and increasing Recommended STR to 04].
  • POLICE CRUISER [STR 05 BODY 07, Running: 06, R#02]. He sometimes drives an unmarked car with the same stats (and a heavy, reinforced fender).
  • In tactical situations he’ll have a VEST [BODY 06, Skin armour; 02, Limitation: Skin armour only vs bullets and blades, Partial (Vest)]…
  • …and a Pump gun [BODY 04, Shotgun Blast (Range 03): 06, Ammo: 07, R#03, Recommended STR: 02, Drawback: Very Long Reload].
  • The tac kit in his car’s trunk includes Night vision Goggles [BODY 02, Ultra-vision: 03, R#03] and a Gas Mask [BODY 02, Sealed systems: 06, Limitation: Sealed systems only to protects the eyes and respiratory system].
  • He also once produced a spray of regurgitative gas for major crowd control [BODY 02, Fog: 02, Paralysis: 05, Note: Fog has a special +7 Volume Bonus; Paralysis is done vs BODY/BODY (not DEX/BODY) and breaking free from it is a BODY/BODY roll (not STR/STR) ; Paralysis and Fog are always Combined].

Young gun

In his youth, Shotgun’s DEX, STR and Martial Artist were one AP higher, though he didn’t have the Edge Advantage to his STR. He also had 30 HPs.

Using Edge for an ageing character who still can achieve spurts of vitality has also been done for Captain David Anderson.

By Sébastien Andrivet.

Source of Character: Batman comics, Robin comics.

Helper(s): Michael Andrew, Darci.

Writeup completed on the 2nd of August, 2017.

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